Happy: A Quest for Life After Death

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Ah, the joys of summer. Summer means the beach, and lazy days spent lounging around the house, and a slower, more relaxed pace that recharges batteries worn down by a year of school and work.

Or I suppose that's what summer means in some houses.  At our house, it means the living room is often above 80 degrees even with the window A/C unit blasting, driving all over creation to drop off and pick up kids from a different day camp every week, most of which only run from 9-3, and trying to get the rest of a 40 hour work-week in from home while the boys watch endless amounts of TV.

And it means vacation. I'm dreading this summer's trip, as I do almost all family vacations. Dynamics at our house have shifted since Mat passed away, with the balance of power tilting decisively toward the kids and away from me, the remaining parental unit. This plays out in lots of different ways, like at the dinner table, where it seems less and less worth the effort to prepare something only I will eat. Or in many attempted family outings, where I seriously have to consider how much energy I have to fight resistance from the kids who would have a great time if only they would give it a chance, and where a little back-up from another adult would go a long way toward unifying the troops.

I'm getting the hang of coping with my loss of power in some arenas, such as at the dinner table, where I get daily practice. In others, such as vacation, where practice is harder to come by, I am still floundering. And so trips, which involve planning and packing and complaining and logistics and unfamiliar territory, are pretty much a recipe for me coming unglued at least once.

But still we go. We recently returned from a lovely weekend in Vermont, which is a simple, easy trip. It involved minimal effort on my part, but forces still conspired to drive me to temporary insanity at one point. 

This picture is of the Salmon River, in Mat's hometown where we took our last summer trip. Mat's sister brought her family too, and showed us the houses Mat lived in while he was growing up, the high school where he was the star basketball player, and rafted with us down the river where he worked summers as a rafting guide. 

After the trip, my brother asked me, "How was it?"

I considered the question, and weighed the high points against the inevitable very, very low point.

"Well, it was good," I decided. "But Mat wasn't there." 

And he wasn't. Mat wasn't playing basketball in the high school, or skateboarding in the yard at his old house, or perched on a bridge about to dive into the river, or at the town summer festival.

"It was good that you checked," he said.

Yes, it was, temporary insanity and all.

1 comment:

Rachel Morrow said...

Our summer seems crazy too. I haven't even called you to wish you a Happy Birthday! Remember when summer was so simple? Lists from your mom, lots of weeding, trips to the woods, and washing our feet off in the bathroom sink. You will have an adventurous vacation this summer, if nothing else!